Marina Verbeke spends a lot of time in Charlotte, N.C., and on her trips there to visit friends she would happen upon Clean Juice, a popular juice bar in the area. Inside she found a world of organic beverages and foods that resembled her own Ohio upbringing, and she instantly fell in love.
“I thought it was so great,” Verbeke said. “The first time I went, I felt like I could feel the nutrients in my body. I wanted to go back the next day.”
Verbeke heads to a Clean Juice almost every day now. The Forsyth County resident, since 1993, opened the first one in Georgia in early September on Old Milton Parkway, just a block past the Avalon in Liberty Village Shopping Center.
Verbeke’s location adheres to the bright and rustic minimalist design of Clean Juice stores that are beginning to spread across the country. Verbeke said the company has almost 40 locations in 16 states, from California to Pennsylvania. Clean Juice’s website says it has another 60 in development, including three in Georgia, according to Verbeke.
They all serve the same menu of cold-pressed juices, smoothies, acai bowls and toasts with toppings like avocado and almond butter. They offer programs for brief cleanses too. Clean Juice markets itself as the only USDA-certified organic juice bar in the country, and it’s particularly proud of its in-store, cold-pressed method.
“Other juice bars use centrifugal juicers; it makes juice by creating heat,” Verbeke said. “That heating element degrades the nutrients. All nutrients are gone within 30 minutes to an hour.”
Verbeke identifies with Clean Juice’s emphasis on nutrition. Her dad was first-generation American from Greece, and she remembers being raised on a Mediterranean diet: cold-pressed olive oil, lots of fruits and vegetables. She raised her son, Nik, the same way.
Verbeke had always worked in the healthcare, education and nutrition fields, including 12 years at Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta, but she stepped back from work when Nik was born. When Nik graduated from Forsyth Central High School – he now plays baseball at Furman University – Verbeke found herself eager to get back to work.
“I wanted something I felt like I could do something positive for the community,” Verbeke said.
She found it in Clean Juice.
“I feel so good that I can put something good out in the community,” Verbeke said. “Everybody who eats at my store is going to be better when they leave than when they came in.”